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Microsoft Gives Peek At Adobe Challenger

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-06-10

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Tapping the brain of professional graphic artists, Microsoft released a beta version of a new graphics software, code-named Acrylic (formerly Expression), last week.

Available as a free download at Microsoft's website, the professional graphics tool combines pixel-based painting with vector graphics capabilities. Once released, assumedly sometime after the October 1st beta download expiration, the software will challenge Adobe Systems for top spot among design programming.

It also will take a top spot among hardware requirements. For optimal performance, the software requires Windows XP Service Pack 2, 512 MB of memory, and 500 MB of disk space. According to the forums on the website, the program will not run on Windows 2000.

Though Expression was once available for Macintosh, Microsoft's recent acquisition of the programs developer, Creature House, will rule out the option.

Acrylic supports opening and exporting to Photoshop and Illustrator file formats as well as to PDF. One sore spot, according to beta testers, is the inability to save into formats other than XPR.

Complained one forum poster, "Future version should allow work saved in other formats besides .xpr, especially .jpg format by using the Export HTML function."

Overall reviews have been mixed, but most are patient because it is a beta version with some natural bugs to be worked out.

William Millberry, a University of Pittsburg systems analyst wrote, "I like how it merges editing of pixel images and vector drawing. Other apps tend to do one or the other better but not both. The interface is sufficient and it has all of the basic functions, but it feels like it's a good bit behind Photoshop and Illustrator.

"I think this would be a great consumer or enthusiast alternative to Photoshop for a smaller price tag, but I don't believe that pro's will get what they need out of it unless it goes through much more development."

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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